Community or public meeting

$0 to $1k
estimated cost of external help
  • Scan and research
  • Explore options
  • Confirm options
  • Share
  • Consult
0-2 weeks
estimated run time
3-5 weeks
estimated lead time
Experienced facilitator
recommended experience
Community or public meetings are a meeting convened with a community with a specific purpose or goal. There is no single format for a public meeting. Some may be more informational, while others may encourage a greater degree of participation from the group. The format of the meeting may be informal or may incorporate other engagement techniques. Typically, public meetings are advertised, have some sort of chairperson or facilitator, and gain feedback from the community on the issue at hand.

In 5 steps...

  1. Decide on and book a location appropriate to your audience. Consider timing that is appropriate for the community to get the highest degree of representation; for example, out of work hours or on a weekend. Consider accessibility and any other factors that might limit attendance and resolve these where possible.
  2. Advertise and promote your event as widely as appropriate. Consider unusual channels such as doctors’ offices or post offices, places where your audience may pay more attention to your notice.
  3. Commence your meeting by communicating a clear purpose and expectation. Ensure that everyone understands what will be discussed and what you are asking of them.
  4. Listen and receive feedback respectfully and thoughtfully. Record all feedback for later review.
  5. After the event, communicate back through the appropriate channels what you got out of the event and how it influenced your project.

When to use it

A community or public meeting is a great tool for scenarios where you need to provide information to a community group and you also seek diverse feedback.


  • Increased visibility of changes or proposed solutions.
  • Quick feedback.
  • Fast input for decision-making.
  • Lends the voices of key stakeholders to the decision-making process.
  • Lends some transparency to the decision-making process.
  • May raise key risks that have not yet been addressed in the decision documents.
Long term
  • Improved reception of the final output.
  • Better relationships between the project team and key stakeholders.


  • Those who attend are most likely to be passionate about the topic, so there will not be a representative sample of the broader audience.
  • Without strong facilitation, the meeting can become focused on negatives or complaints that aren’t relevant to your process.
  • Comments from the public often come in the form of long statements. Gently encourage shorter questions, and confirm with those who make statements what their question is before you answer them: ‘I understand that what you are asking is whether we will implement this, this year. Is that right?’



  • Consider a series of meetings rather than a single event if you have a lot of information to get through or would like to create more opportunity for a range of individuals to attend.
  • In all your promotional material, clearly and concisely communicate the goal and what attendees will be contributing.
  • Ensure your venue is a ‘neutral’ location that does not imply a particular affiliation you do not intend.
  • Test all technology before the event to ensure that you do not waste any time on this during the meeting.

During the process

  • Take photos or videos to share the event with those who cannot attend. Consider live streaming if it is within your budget. However, make allowances for people to opt out of photos/video.
  • Provide an agenda to give the process a structure, and set any ground rules at the start of the meeting.
  • Allow people to vent their frustrations before gently redirecting them back to the purpose of the meeting. Acknowledge anger and then move on to the next person or activity.
  • Be flexible. Prepare for a scenario where you do not get through all the material you planned to – discussion always takes much longer than expected.


  • Summarise and distribute the outcomes, preferably in the same places you advertised the meeting, so the community feels like they were heard and their time was respected.